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Can anyone offer suggestions or opinions on using filesystem metadata on a multi-OS networked environment.

I have been asked to help develop a document archive for a small office.

Documents relate to Project, Year, and Target. While an individual document only applies to a single Project or Year, it might relate to multiple Targets.

This is the perfect situation for metadata. File names could indicate Project and Year, with tags to designate the Target. Saved search folders would aid retrieval.

This would work on OS X or Vista and above. However the office network has a 2003 Server, several XP machines, and a handful of Win7 machines, with OS X machines logging on from time to time.

So my questions:

  1. Can anyone offer insights or experience of using metadata filesystem tags that are compatible across XP and >Vista machines. Maybe by creating custom metadata in XP that is readable as a tag on Vista.
  2. Can we establish tags/ metadata that will also be readable and writable via OS X?

BTW, all files will reside on the server.

We are also looking at DMS and library software, but it seems overkill for our purposes. A low tech option would be the best solution.

I appreciate any ideas or suggestions from anyone who has faced a similar challenge. The answer may be to upgrade the network, but I'd welcome a quicker solution.

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migrated from Jul 20 '11 at 20:00

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

Probably should move this to server fault. Basically you need something akin to a content management system like Sharepoint Server. – surfasb Jul 20 '11 at 18:46

The tagging functionality in Windows Vista and 7 works with a select group of file formats (OLE Compound Documents and some image and audio formats). Here's reference about adding tags to files from Microsoft that describes this behavior.

The old Windows XP "Summary" tab on files actually used NTFS alternative data streams to store the data but that support was dropped in Windows Vista. (I would argue that was a step backward but that's just my opinion). Microsoft does offer a library of code to manipulate Office document properties on machines w/o Office installed, but this covers only OLE Compound Documents and not the rest of the file types that Vista has property handlers for.

Using the filesystem as a generic object store with indexed metadata has been something that Microsoft has been trying to do for a long time and had no success actually shipping. Given how much trouble Microsoft has had doing this I think your Customer would be better served by using an off-the-shelf document management / repository system (Sharepoint, etc) rather than relying on OS functionality to form the basis of workflows. That OS functionality is going to be "brittle" and may not survive into future OS releases.

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